Nature Profiles

Flora of Derbyshire - the White Peak grasslands part 1

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Globeflower (Trollius europaeus)

tre

tre2
Cressbrook Dale NNR

Derbyshire represents the south-eastern limit of this beautiful plant's distribution in Britain, and it is very rare here, being restricted to a few small colonies in various dales.

This species is described in more detail in the Flora of northern England section of the site.

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tre4

tre5

 

 

Lesser Meadow-Rue (Thalictrum minus)

thl
Cressbrook Dale NNR

This rare plant of calcareous meadows is found at scattered sites in the White Peak.  It can be locally frequent, as at some spots in Cressbrook Dale.

It is easily recognised by the distinctive glaucous green divided foliage.  The flowers are rather disappointing for such an elegant meadow plant, with small white petals and long, drooping yellow stamens.

thl2
flower panicle

 

 

Maiden Pink (Dianthus deltoides)

ddl

ddb
Bradford Dale

Sadly, a declining flower of scattered sites in the White Peak, Maiden Pink is ones of Derbyshire's most beautiful wild flowers in my opinion.  It is restricted to four populations, all declining, with the largest in Bradford Dale.

Maiden Pink occurs infrequently throughout Britain, but is not common anywhere.

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ddl3
near Bakewell

d2
flower buds

 

 

Nottingham Catchfly (Silene nutans)

sln
Cressbrook Dale NNR

One of the White Peak's botanical treasures, Nottingham Catchfly is more common here than anywhere else in Britain.  Despite this, it is still a rare plant of selected dales, being most abundant in the Miller's Dale area.

The only other white-flowered Silene in the dales is White Campion, but Nottingham Catchfly is easily distinguished by its drooping flowers with thin, divided petals.

sln2

 

 

Common Mouse-ear (Cerastium fontanum)

crs
Monsal Dale

A very common plant of open grassland throughout Derbyshire, this species is easily found when flowering in early summer.

It is described in more detail in the Flora of Tentsmuir Point NNR section of the site.

Thanks to Fred Rumsey for the identification.

cra3

 

 

Spring Sandwort (Minuartia verna)

lwt
Cressbrook Dale NNR

Spring Sandwort is a speciality of the Peak District.  Although classed as Nationally Threatened, it is often frequent in small patches in rocky areas of the limestone dales, as well as on old spoil heaps from the lead mining industry.  The plant is one of the few that can tolerate the residual heavy metals left in the soil, and so can grow without competition in such areas.  This has given rise to its local name of 'Leadwort'.

ss
Rose End Meadows NR

 

 

Thyme-leaved Sandwort (Arenaria serpyllifolia)

arn
Monsal Dale

The only widespread Arenaria species in Britain, this little plant is a common summer-flowering annual of bare ground and open calcareous grassland. 

It can be recognised by its five-petalled white flowers, typical of the genus, and the tiny pointed leaves, which are covered with short hairs.

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Knotted Pearlwort (Sagina nodosa)

sgn

sgn
Monks Dale NNR

A scarce plant in the White Peak, Knotted Pearlwort is restricted to higher elevations in the north and west, although the plant photographed here (with flowers not quite opened) was at low elevation in a calcareous streamside in Monks Dale.

Knotted Pearlwort is described in more detail in the Flora of northern England section of the site.

 

 

Musk Mallow (Malva moschata)

m
Coombs Dale SSSI

The finely divided leaves of this plant distinguish it from other pink-flowered mallows. 

Musk Mallow is a widespread species in Britain, especially in England, where it is a plant of unmodified grassland.

 

 

Common Rock Rose (Helianthemum nummularium)

rr
Longstone Edge

A common plant in the Peak District dales, Rock Rose flowers from June onwards.  While usually bright lemon yellow, you can sometimes see paler flowers like the one on the left. 

The plant is important as the host plant of the Cistus Forester moth.

rr

 

 

Mountain Pansy (Viola lutea)

vl
Coombs Dale SSSI

Despite its common name, this attractive plant is not confined to mountains.  It is often common in upland heathy habitats and moors where there is some calcareous influence on the soil. 

Plants in Derbyshire tend to have yellow flowers, whereas those I photographed on Ben Lawers in Scotland had exclusively purple flowers.

vl

 

 

Cuckoo-flower (Cardamine pratensis)

ckf
Cressbrook Dale NNR

One of the characteristic spring wildflowers of damp meadows, Cuckoo Flower is so-named, because it blooms around the time that cuckoos return to Britain in May. 

The plant is important flor insects, not just for nectar, but also as the larval foodplant of the Orange-tip butterfly

This perennial crucifer is easily recognised by its tall stature, damp habitat and narrow pinnate stem leaves.

 

 

Hairy Bitter-cress (Cardamine hirsuta)

hbc

hbc3
Cressbrook Dale NNR

A common grassland spring annual and weed of dry gardens, Hairy Bitter-cress can be distinguished from the very similar Wavy BItter-cress (C.flexuosa) by its flowers, which have 4 stamens instead of 6. 

It grows in drier habitats than Wavy Bitter-cress, but both species are widespread and abundant.

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hbc4

 

 

Hutchinsia (Hornungia petraea)

hpt
Monsal Head

A scarce tiny annual crucifer which flowers very early in spring, Hutchinsia can be tricky to find.   It favours bare, exposed lime-rich soil and cracks in limestone and can be found at scattered sites throughout the White Peak.  Nationally it is a scarce species, restricted to upland limestone districts.

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Hairy Rock-cress (Arabis hirsuta)

arh

arhr
Cressbrook Dale NNR

The conspicuous hairs scattered over the stalkless leaves of little tufted plant help identify it, along with the long erect racemes of small white four-petalled flowers. 

Hairy Rock-cress is widely distributed in calcareous habitats throughout  Britain.

arh2

 

 

 

Common Whitlow-grass (Erophila verna)

erph

erv
Cressbrook Dale NNR

A characteristic late winter or early spring-flowering annual of dry grassland habitats, Common Whitlow-grass is actually recognised as an aggregate of very similar species. 

It resembles other small rosette-forming crucifers, such as Arabis or Draba species, but can be recognised by its broad, lanceolate leaves and deeply-notched petals, which give the flowers an 8-petalled appearance.

erv3

 

 

Thale Cress (Arabidopsis thaliana)

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arabp
Cressbrook Dale NNR (all photos)

One of a number of similar-looking, small annual crucifers, Thale Cress grows in limestone grassland and closely resembles Arabis hirsuta (see above), which grows in the same habitat. 

It can be distinguished by hairless upper stems and leaves, as well as by its curved fruits.

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arab

tl

 

 

Wall Whitlowgrass (Draba muralis)

dmr
Winnatts Pass

This uncommon plant is one of several white-flowered early spring annual crucifers which occurs in the White Peak.  Although rather rare, it can be locally common, such as on the north-facing slores of Winnatts Pass, where it grows in damp, steeply-sloping grassland. 

The Peak District is one of the strongholds of this species nationally, and it has a scattered distribution over the rest of Britain, where it can also occur as an introduced species in base-rich habitats. 

Draba muralis can be distinguished from other grassland crucifers by its broad, strongly-toothed stem leaves.

dmr2

 

 

Alpine Penny-cress (Noccaea caerulescens)

thl

thl3
Bonsall Leys SSSI

Formerly known as Thlaspi caerulescens, Alpine Penny-cress is one of the White Peak's specialities, and the plant can be locally common on old lead-mining spoil heaps, although it is far less common than Spring Sandwort (see above), which grows in the same habitat.  It is easily recognised by its purple anthers, dense globular flowerheads, glaucous foliage, heart- and the very distinctive habitat.

In Britain as a whole, the plant is classified as Nationally Scarce.  It is most common in the northern Pennines, with other more scattered sites being found in the central Highlands of Scotland and north Wales.

thl2
seed pods, Bradford Dale

 

 

Pyrenean Scurvygrass (Cochlearia pyrenaica ssp. pyrenaica)

cch
Winnatts Pass

Text coming soon!

 

 

Cowslip (Primula veris)

cs
Coombs Dale SSSI

One of my favourite spring wildflowers, the Cowslip is one of the first grassland plants to flower each year.  Some flowers, but not all, have a rich citrus fragrance. 

Cowslip is common throughout Britain in alkaline grassland habitats.

 

 


Coombs Dale SSSI

Biting Stonecrop (Sedum acre)

scar
Lathkill Dale NNR

The acid-yellow starry flowers of Biting Stonecrop make this common plant of dry, open habitats instantly recognisable. 

Like all Sedums, it has succulent leaves which give the plant a high resistance to drought, and Biting Stonecrop often colonises rock crevices which are too dry for other species to survive in.  It is a common species throughout lowland Britain.

 

 

Meadow Saxifrage (Saxifraga granulata)

ms
Rose End Meadows NR

This is one of my favourite meadow plants.  Taller than other native saxifrages, it is fairly common in calcareous grassland throughout Britain.

 

 

Mossy Saxifrage (Saxifraga hypnoides)

msxr
Cressbrook Dale NNR

Mossy Saxifrage is locally common in the Peak District and is easily distinguished from Meadow Saxifrage by its narrower petals mossy foliage.  Unlike Meadow Saxifrage, it grows on rocks rather than in grassland. 

I've described the species more fully in the Flora of Ben Lawers NNR section of the site.

 

 

Rue-leaved Saxifrage (Saxifraga tridactylites)

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sxt2
Cressbrook Dale NNR

This little saxifrage is an inconspicuous spring-flowering plant of calcareous grassland in the White Peak. 

It can be recognised by its distinctively-shaped foliage, which is often tinged with red, as are the flower calyces.  The individual flowers are very small (less than a centimetre in diameter).

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sxt

 

 

Grass of Parnassus (Parnassia palustris)

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Bonsall Leys SSSI

This species is described in the Flora of Corrie Fee NNR section of the site.

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Rock Whitebeam (Sorbus rupicola)

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Cressbrook Dale NNR

A rare tree in Britain, Rock Whitebeam is restricted to cliff tops and ledges on limestone in the White Peak.  It can be recognised by its spoon-shaped leaves and distinctive habitat.

A Nationally Scarce species, Rock Whitebeam can be found at scattered sites throughout Wales and northern Britain.

 

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Stone Bramble (Rubus saxatilis)

rsx
Cressbrook Dale NNR

In the White Peak, Rock Bramble is a characteristic species of scree edges in scrubby habitats, where it forms a frequent association with Bloody Cranesbill (see below) and other scarce species.

It is an easy plant to recognise when the stems are examined.  Unlike 'normal' Bramble, Stone Bramble's stems are spineless.  Its fruits are red and rather small, bearing few segments.

stb
stem detail

 

 

Dewberry (Rubus caesius)

rca
Monks Dale NNR

Instantly distinctive when in fruit, Dewberry is a calcicole of hedgerows and woodland edges.  The fruit is covered with a bluish bloom (hence the Latin name).  It is widespread in the White Peak, but never common or dominant like its relative, the Bramble (R.fruticosus).

 

 

Barren Strawberry (Potentilla sterilis)

ptn
Cressbrook Dale NNR

Named for the resemblance of the flowers to those of the Strawberry, this plant is one of the most widespread British Potentilla species, where it grows in a range of dry habitats. 

It can easily be recognised by the prominent green sepals, which are visible in the gaps between the white petals.

 

 

Potentilla tabernaemontani (Spring Cinquefoil)

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ptn2
Monsal Dale

A Nationally Scarce plant, the Peak District is one of the English strongholds of this beautiful cinquefoil. 

Distinguishing features of this early-flowering species are its five petals, terminal flowers (some other Potentilla species have flowers arising from leaf axils) and mat-forming habit. 

Spring Cinquefoil favours shallow soils on sunny limestone outcrops and can be seen in many of the dales in central portion of the White Peak.

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ptn4
in habitat

 

 

Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris)

am
Coombs Dale SSSI

Close inspection of the small yellow flowers reveals Lady's Mantle to be a member of the Rose family. 

There are many microspecies within A.vulgaris, but an expert eye is required to distinguish them.  Cultivars of the species are popular as cottage-garden plants.

 

 

Aphanes arvensis (Parsley-piert)

apha
Cressbrook Dale NNR

This common annual of grazed grassland habitats has pale green, much divided leaves, and even tinier clusters of yellow flowers which betray its close relation to the showier Lady's-mantles (Alchemilla sp). 

Thanks to Tom Blockeel for the identification.

 

 

Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)

mdws
Lathkill Dale NNR

Meadowsweet is a common plant of damp grassland, marshes and wet ditches.  Its prolific sweetly-scented flowerheads make it easily identifiable. 

The only other Filipendula species in Britain is Dropwort (F.vulgaris), which is much rarer in the limestone dales (see below), and is a much smaller plant of dry grasslands.

 

 

Dropwort (Filipendula vulgaris)

drp
Cressbrook Dale NNR

A fairly uncommon species of dry grassland in the White Peak, Dropwort can nonetheless be locally common.

It is a more delicate, elegant plant than Meadowsweet and grows in a totally different habitat, so the two species should not be confused.

Dropwort is described in more detail in the Flora of Hampshire section of the site.

drl
leaf detail

 

 

Common Restharrow (Ononis repens)

or
Coombs Dale SSSI

The common name of this plant comes from the way that the plant's creeping stems and root system used to snag ploughs in meadows.  It's a fairly inconspicuous plant, but attractive nonetheless. 

It can be found throughout Britain wherever there is calcareous grassland or scrubby habitat.

 

 

Bitter-vetch (Lathyrus linifolius ssp. montanus)

lmon
Cressbrook Dale NNR

Bitter-vetch occurs in areas of grassland where the soil is more acidic and is widespread in the Peak District. 

It is a common plant nationally, and can be recognised by its narrow lanceolate leaflets, lack of tendrils (it is an upright plant, rather than a twining one, like its relatives) and stalked raceme with just a few bright pink flowers, which fade to blue. 

Thanks to Fred Rumsey for the identification.

 

 

Common Bird's-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)

bft

bft2Coombs Dale SSSI

Named for the shape of the seed pods, Common Bird's-foot Trefoil is a common plant indeed in the limestone dales, and nationally. 

It is similar to other Lotus species, two of which are found in Derbyshire: Narrow-leaved Bird's-foot Trefoil (L.glaber), as its name suggests, has much narrower and longer leaflets, and is known from only a few sites in the county; Greater Bird's-foot Trefoil (L.pedunculatus) is very widespread in the county, and is a larger, hairy plant of marshes and fens, although the most reliable way to distinguish the two species is to look at the calyx teeth in the buds - L.corniculatus has erect teeth, L.pedunculatus has reflexed teeth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria ssp. vulneraria)

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kl
leaf detail, Cressbrook Dale

This attractive summer-flowering legume is common in the White Peak, and in calcareous grassland nationally.

Individual flowers are rather small compared to the size of the plant, and are borne in woolly clusters.  The flowers are a rich source of nectar for butterflies, bees and hoverflies.

anth2

 

 

Black Medick (Medicago lupulina)

mdc
Monsal Dale

This miniature grassland perennial resembles a dwarf yellow-flowered clover.  It is a common species throughout Britain, and can be distinguished from the similar Hop Trefoil (Trifolium campestre) by its downy leaves, mucronate leaf tips and curved black seed pods.

mdc2

 

 

Fairy Flax (Linum catharticum)

lnc
Lathkill Dale NNR

Fairy Flax is a common straggly plant of dry grassland habitats in the limestone dales, and also occurs in damp habitats in some areas.  It can be recognised by its white five-petalled flowers and blunt opposite leaves. 

It is the only native flax found in Derbyshire (Pale Flax and Perennial Flax are probably extinct in the county), although Flax (L.usitatissimum) is present as a naturalised escape from cultivation. 

I apologise for the terrible photo - a better one will be taken in future!

 

 

Common Milkwort (Polygala vulgaris)

pv
Coombs Dale SSSI

A common small perennial of calcareous grassland, Common Milkwort is much the commonest of its family in Britain. 

The only other species in Derbyshire is Heath Milkwort (Polygala serpyllifolia), which, as its name suggests, is found in acidic heathland habitats, unlike P.vulgaris.

 

 

Butterwort (Pinguicula vulgaris)

png
Monks Dale NNR

Nationally, Butterwort is a widespread plant of base-rich marshy habitats.  It is rather rare in Derbyshire, mainly because most of the limestone dales are dry, with no permanent water.  Monks Dale is an exception, and there is nice colony of this species alongside the tufa-forming stream. 

Butterwort is described more fully in the Flora of Corrie Fee NNR, Scotland section of the site.

 

 

Small-flowered Cranesbill (Geranium pusillum) - or perhaps G.molle

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gm
Cressbrook Dale NNR

One of several small, pink-flowered annual Cranesbills, G.pusillum can be recognised by downy stems,  notched mauve petals and downy fruits. 

Dove's-foot Cranesbill (G.molle) is very similar and occurs in the same grassland habitats, but has pink petals and hairless fruits.

 

 

Bloody Cranesbill (Geranium sanguineum)

gs
Monks Dale NNR

Rarer than Meadow Cranesbill, this beautiful plant can be seen in scattered locations throughout the White Peak.  The photo here does not fully show the striking crimson-magenta colour of the petals.

 

 

Meadow Cranesbill (Geranium pratense)

gs
Coombs Dale SSSI

Meadow Cranesbill is a familiar sight along roadsides throughout the Derbyshire countryside, from mid-summer onwards.

 

 

Autumn Gentian (Gentianella amarella ssp. amarella)

ag
Coombs Dale SSSI

This small biennial plant can be found growing amongst the turf on calcareous grassland in many areas of Britain, flowering from mid-summer well into autumn. 

Three subspecies are recognised in Britain - the nominate form, which is the most widespread, ssp.septentrionalis, which has creamy white flowers and is found in northern Britain, and ssp.hibernica, which has larger flowers and is only found in Ireland.

 

 

Jacob's Ladder (Polemonium caeruleum)

jl
Lathkill Dale NNR

This rare plant is a Peak District speciality, with one of the largest populations nationally being found in Lathkill Dale NNR, where this photo was taken.  It is currently doing so well that in June 2009 plants were flowering well beyond the fenced area designed to protect them!

 

 

Wild Thyme (Thymus polytrichus)

thy
Monks Dale NNR

Wild Thyme is a typical plant of warm, calcareous grassland, and is common in the Peak District. 

It is easily recognised by its dense heads of pink flowers, mat-forming habit and flower stalks which are very hairy on two opposite faces only - the similar Large Thyme (T.pulegioides) has long hairs on the four stem angles, rather than 2 opposite faces, but is not found in the Peak District.  It also has strongly thyme-scented leaves, unlike Wild Thyme, which only has faintly-scented leaves.

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Wood Sage (Teucrium scorodonia)

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Coombs Dale SSSI

Unrelated to the cultivated culinary Sage (Salvia officinalis), Wood Sage is common in dry habitats (grassland and dunes, as well as woodlands) throughout Britain. 

It can be recognised its sage-like leaves (hence the common name) and pale greenish-yellow yellow flowers with conspicuous red stamens.

 

 

Great Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)

m
Lathkill Dale NNR

One of the largest herbaceous perennials in the Dales, Great Mullein can grow to well over 1m tall, and a hillside covered in these plants is an spectacular sight. 

In mid-summer these beautiful plants host the impressive multicoloured caterpillars of the Mullein moth.

 

 

Brooklime (Veronica beccabunga)

bl
Monks Dale NNR

Text coming soon!

 

 

Blue Water-speedwell (Veronica anagallis-aquatica)

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Monks Dale NNR

Text coming soon!

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Germander Speedwell (Veronica chamaedrys)

vcm
Cressbrook Dale NNR

One of the commonest British Veronica species, this widespread species grows in both grassland and woodland. 

Plants in grassland are easily distinguished by their broad, toothed leaves, but woodland plants need to be carefully separated from the very similar Wood Speedwell (V.montana).  Features unique to Germander Speedwell are the two rows of long white hairs on opposite sides of the stems and its virtually stalkess leaves.  The fruits of the two species are also distinctive.

 

 

Thyme-leaved Speedwell (Veronica serpyllifolia ssp. serpyllifolia)

vs
Deep Dale

A common plant of a variety of habitats, Thyme-leaved Speedwell can be seen acorss most of Derbyshire.  In the White Peak it is a frequent plant of grassland edges and woodland margins. As the common name implies, the small, rather thick leaves resembles those of Thyme.  It also differs from other Speedwells in having terminal racemes of flowers, rather than racemes arising from the leaf axils.

You can see photos of the alpine subspecies of Thyme-leaved Speedwell here.

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foliage detail

 

 

Common Eyebright (Euphrasia nemorosa)

eb
Coombs Dale SSSI

A common small wildflower of limestone meadows, Eyebright is a semi-parasite, gaining some of its nutrition from surrounding plants.

 

 

Limestone Bedstraw (Galium sterneri)

lsbdt
Coombs Dale SSSI

lbd2
Monks Dale NNR

Largely a plant of northern Britain, Limestone Bedstraw has one of its 'southern' strongholds in the limestone dales of the Peak District.  It can be distinguished from similar-looking bedstraws by its mat-like habit and obovate leaves which have backward-pointing prickles along the margins.

lbd

 

 

Lady's Bedstraw (Galium verum)

Image coming soon!

Lady's Bedstraw is described in the Flora of Tentsmuir Point NNR section of the site.

 

 

Crosswort (Cruciata laevipes)

crw
Deep Dale

A very close relative of the Bedstraws, Crosswort is a common species of grassland in the White Peak.  Superficially it resembles Lady's Bedstraw (Galium verum), but can be distinguished by its leaves which are arranged in whorls of four, hence the common name.  The stems are also densely clothed in long hairs, unlike Lady's Bedstraw.

Although very common in the White Peak, the plant is rare elsewhere in Derbyshire due to its preference for calcareous soils.

crw2

 

 

Common Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)

vl
Cressbrook Dale NNR

A common species of damp grassland, Common Valerian is a tall-growing elegant perennial with fragrant pinkish-white flowers and deeply pinnate leaves.


leaf detail

 

 

Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis)

fsc
Coombs Dale SSSI

Field Scabious is common in the Peak District, and is a plant I always love to see.  It flowers from mid-summer well into autumn, and provides a rich nectar source for butterflies. 

In Coombs Dale, where this photo was taken, the flowers of Field Scabious are like magnets to the resident population of Dark Green Fritillaries

Field Scabious is easily distinguished from the other two British Scabious species - it is a much larger, coarsely-hairy plant than Small Scabious (and much more common), and has larger, paler flowers than Devil's-bit Scabious with florets that are distinctly larger on the outside of the flowerhead.  Devil's-bit Scabious also has entire leaves, rather than the pinnatifid leaves of the other two species.

 

 

Devil's-bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis)

dbs
Coombs Dale SSSI

Devil's-bit Scabious occupies different habitats than the familiar Field Scabious and Small Scabious.  It is a plant of damp places, but unlike Small Scabious, and is equally at home on acidic or calcaerous soils, so can be found on moorland in Derbyshire, as well in the limestone dales. 

Recognising Devil's-bit Scabious is fairly easy: it has undivided, lanceolate leaves unlike the other two Scabious species and the flowerheads have each floret a uniform size - the outer ones are not larger than the inner ones - Field Scabious and Small Scabious have larger outer florets.  The flowers are also a darker shade of violet when you're used to seeing all three species! 

The curious common name of the plant derives from the rhizomes, which are abruptly terminated, looking like they have been bitten off.


Tideswell Dale

 

 

 

 

 


Coombs Dale SSSI

Small Scabious (Scabiosa columbaria)

smsc
Lathkill Dale NNR

Resembling a miniature version of Field Scabious, this plant is less robust and perhaps more 'refined' than its larger cousin (see above). 

Small Scabious has downy hairs on its stems, rather than the coarse hairs which cover Field Scabious.  A more definite way to distinguish the two species, if one is still uncertain, is to look at the calyx teeth - Small Scabious has five, whereas Field Scabious has eight.

 

 

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

achm
Coombs Dale SSSI

This very common grassland plant is easily recognised by its white umbel-like inflorescences and highly divided (hence the Latin name) leaves.

 

 

Woolly Thistle (Cirsium eriophorum)

wht1

wht2
Coombs Dale SSSI

The common name of this robust thistle gives an excellent clue to its identification - the spherical flowerheads are covered in fine woolly hairs, as are the stems. 

Woolly Thistle is a plant of calcereous lowland grasslands, primarily in southern England, with scattered populatons (including the Derbyshire plants) occurring north as far as Northumberland, with older records from eastern Scotland. 

The plant also occurs in Europe, and you can see plants from the Cordillera Cantabrica in Spain here.

wht3

 

 

Dwarf Thistle (Cirsium acaule)

dth
Biggin Dale NNR

Dwarf Thistle is one of the White Peak's southern specialities, with the sites in Cressbrook Dale marking the northern limit of this species in Britain.  It is only found on sloping, south-facing sites this far north but can be abundant.

The species is described in more detail in the Flora of other areas of southern England section of the site.

cra
Cressbrook Dale NNR

 

 

Musk / Nodding Thistle (Carduus nutans)

cn
Monsal Dale

This handsome thistle is a common plant in many parts of the White Peak, especially where the ground is a less strongly calcareous.  The vernacular name of Nodding Thistle refers to the large solitary, drooping flowerheads, which are a reliable characteristic for identifying this species.

Nationally, Musk Thistle is common throughout most of England and Wales, but is much less common in Scotland, being largely restricted to the south-east, near the coast.

 

 

Common Knapweed (Centaurea nigra)

cmn
Tideswell Dale

A very common plant of rough, unimproved grassland across much of Britain, Common Knapweed is easy to recognise in flower, thanks to its dense, almost spherical flower buds, which open to produce fairly small, bright pink inflorescences.  These inflorescences are a favourite nectar source for many insects in late summer.

Common Knapweed is a smaller plant than Greater Knapweed, with much smaller individual flowers, all of which are the same size (rather than the outer ones being longer).  The bracts on the flower heads are also triangular; those on Greater Knapweed are oval, with horseshoe-shaped tips.

 

 

Greater Knapweed (Centaurea scabiosa)

grtk
Tideswell Dale

One of the White Peak's most elegant late summer wildflowers, Greater Knapweed is always a lovely plant to see.  It is fairly common in calcareous grassland, where it often grows alongside its more frequent cousin, Common Knapweed.

This species is described in more detail above, and in the Flora of Hampshire section of the site.

gk2

 

 

Saw-wort (Serratula tinctoria)

sww

swf
Tideswell Dale

A rare plant of the White Peak, Saw-wort is restricted to a few localities, the best-known of which is probably the colony in Tideswell Dale, where it grows with many other special plants in an exceptionally rich grassland bank.

Although superficially resembling a knapweed, once seen Saw-wort is very distinctive in its tall, slender appearance and small pink flowers arising from elongated buds.  The leaves, which give rise to its common name, are also conspicuously edged with bristle-like teeth, and do indeed resemble saw-blades.

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s4

 

 

Carline Thistle (Carlina acaulis)

cac
Bonsall Leys SSSI

This spiny grassland plant is described in the Flora of Hampshire section of the site.

 

 


 

Cat's-ear (Hypochaeris radicata)

hyp

cte
bract detail, Cressbrook Dale NNR (all three photos)

The only Cat's-ear species to occur in Derbyshire, H.radicata is a common grassland species across Britain.

It can be distinguished from other similar yellow-flowered composites (such as Hawkbit spp) by its basal rosette of wavy-toothed oblong leaves and hairless flower stalks.  The flowerheads have dark-tipped bracts on the underside which increase in size towards the tip of the stalk.

hyp2
basal leaf rosette